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Enhancing Patient Experience - Professionals, Patients and Power: A Paradigm Shift in Healthcare Delivery
with Cygnet HealthCare

[Note: The programme for this event will be published in the next post]

The Positives & Negatives from my time at Cygnet 
If you're new around here (hi!) or just don't know how Cygnet came to be in my life, then you can read all about it here:

I'm often asked for my thoughts on Cygnet in conversations about my recovery or just my mental health journey in general. Some people will simply ask whether I liked it or not, whilst others will ask what they (Cygnet) had done to make me better. I used to struggle a lot with these questions because, like many mental health services) there were failings and I do have a lot of bad memories from being an inpatient there but I was hesitant to talk about these. I felt as though I should sing their praises because obviously, they'd played a massive part in my mental health recovery, and I didn't want to seem ungrateful. However, from the outset of I'm NOT Disordered I've always said that it would be a fair account of inpatient life in that, I would rant when I felt let-down, and I'd praise the staff when they got it right!
These are, what I believe to be, the two key areas where positives and negatives affected my time in Cygnet the most:

[above: some of my leaving presents from the girls and staff]

The People
- Living with around 15 other girls who had Borderline Personality Disorder meant that there was often rows, drama, and sometimes, even physical fights. With a big part of BPD being unstable moods and relationships, and uncontrollable anger; this should come as no surprise. Some people were on completely different stages in recovery and so, those on the verge of being discharged would have less empathy, understanding, and tolerance to those who were newly admitted and at their most unwell. One of the three main causes for arguments would be if someone disagreed with the way they'd seen another respond to staff, e.g. if they felt a member of staff was trying to be helpful but a person was being rude and ungrateful. This would also depend upon the member of staff involved, with everyone having their favourites. The second cause would be if someone self-harmed and it impacted on others e.g. once someone returned from Home Leave and cut themselves very badly, telling others that they'd used a knife they had brought in from home; when it became apparent that the person had passed the knife on to another girl nobody would admit who now had it, so everyone's bedrooms were searched. And the third main cause for an argument would be if it was felt that another's behaviour had upset or 'triggered' others, e.g. when a girl needed to be tube-fed, some felt that it reminded them of their own eating disorder battles and now had to battle resisting the urge to fall back into that routine.
+ I met some incredible people! My Named Nurse, Dr A and Chelsea to name but a few. I loved that the staff didn't hold grudges like those I'd previously experienced; if you'd had an 'incident' with them one day, they would treat you no differently come their next shift. With Bowling ward being long-term; on the day I was discharged there was still girls there who'd been there on my admission day! And so, it would've been hard not to make friends. I can still remember all of their names and I still think about them; wondering where they are now, if things have gotten better, if they're still on their medication or self-harming the way they did on the Ward. I also still think about Dr A and keep in touch with my Named Nurse who became a second Mother to me and even travelled up to Newcastle to attend my 100k party!

The Place
- A huge difficulty in being on the ward was the changes. It is widely known that those with BPD don't cope well with change; especially if they experience one of the symptoms of BPD: abandonment issues. Once, a girl made the comment that she used to work at Tesco but that this Hospital had a higher turnover in staff. One of the two biggest negative affects this had, was that with every new senior member of staff, came a new set of ward rules. Bowling ward had a number of different Ward Managers during the time I was a patient there, and they would often attend a Morning Meeting (having never met anyone) and announce all of their changes to the rules, and be met with a lot of anger and most often; "you've been here five minutes!" Over time, a rule change might become massively beneficial and make the ward a better place, and then a new Manager would come, spend a day in their office, and then tell those who were there 24/7 what needed changing.
+ Although hard at first, the structure became very beneficial. It would prevent me from lying in bed all day, feeling miserable, and planning new ways to self-harm or escape. It also helped to make me feel good about myself when I felt I'd been productive. A huge influence on my behaviours was that they now had consequences. In the community, of course there was consequences to self-harm - dressings, A&E, needles, stitches, treatment... But gradually, they no longer affected me enough to make me change and stop those behaviours. And of course, being over 18, no one could stop me from doing so. However, being sectioned under the Mental Health Act and needing permission to put one foot outside the main doors, provided me with enough motivation to try harder to resist the thoughts of self-harm. Even sleeping through the groups on your timetable meant consequences too; such as refusing said leave!

Coming up next on I'm NOT Disordered; I'll be posting all of the links you need to keep up to date with the event...
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